Ways to renovate without losing character

02 August 2021 | Life Style

For many, the history of a home is what makes it appealing.
However, as charming as antique archways and brass finishes might be, rusty pipes and draughty dens are not quite as appealing. When modernizing a home with old-world character, the key is to update only what is needed to make the space more functional.
“Restoring a heritage property to its former glory while incorporating all the modern conveniences will add immense value to the home,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “To protect the resale value of the home, homeowners could involve a real estate professional from the start of the project. Real estate professionals know which features are appealing to buyers in their area and, therefore, are able to point out what needs to be updated and what is better left untouched.”
At a minimum, Goslett suggests that homeowners consider structural renovations first. “Older homes tend to be poorly insulated and might be structurally unsound owing to the age of the building materials. To start, replace rotten wooden windows and door frames with aluminium alternatives. Have a plumber inspect the pipes in the bathrooms and kitchens.
“Homes built in the late 1800s and 1900s often have cast iron or galvanised pipes which have a lifespan of around 30-40 years. To avoid leaks, replace these with PVC pipes. Roofs also tend to have a lifespan of around 30 – 50 years (depending on the material). Contact a roofing specialist to find out if the roof needs to be replaced or repaired. These structural repairs will not only add value to the property but should also make it more comfortable to live in.”

Character vs old fashioned
In terms of updating the interior features of the home, homeowners will need to make the call on whether things have character or are simply outdated. “Certain design choices were fads that have come and gone, like shell-shaped vanities and carpeted bathrooms. Others, like clawfoot bathtubs and crown moulding, remain incredibly popular among buyers,” says Goslett.
Homeowners may also need to introduce modern conveniences into the home. “Some older homes might not have been plumbed to fit a dishwasher and/or washing machine in the kitchen or scullery. They also most certainly did not come with security cameras or alarm systems. It could add great value to the home to add these features,” Goslett recommends.
As a final word of advice, Goslett also recommends that homeowners check if the home is registered as a heritage property before going ahead with any major renovations. While this may seem cumbersome, it is always better to get the necessary planning approvals upfront as these documents will be required when the homeowner decides to sell,” Goslett concludes.

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